Thursday, December 4, 2008

In the chapter titled Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination, written by Bell Hooks in her book, Black Looks, Race and Representation, Hooks addresses how black individuals have created an image of whiteness throughout history and how this image has affected African American society.

Hooks writes that this image or, “special knowledge of whiteness” shared by black individuals was developed from close analysis of white individuals throughout history. Hooks writes that this knowledge’s purpose was to “help black folks cope and survive in a white supremacist society”. Hooks writes, “For years, black domestic servants, working in white homes, acting as informants, brought knowledge back to segregated communities – details, facts, observations, and psychoanalytic readings of the white Other”. (165).

Hooks writes that many white individuals become angry when they realize that black individuals have developed this ‘image’ of whiteness. Bell Hooks writes on page 167 in regards to this reaction of white individuals, “Their amazement that black people watch white people with a critical “ethnographic” gaze, is itself an expression of racism”. Hooks writes that this frustration turns into rage because white individuals believe that these ‘looks’ which emphasize the difference between white people and black people threaten “the liberal belief in a universal subjectivity (we are all just people) that they think will make racism disappear” (167). Hooks continues to write that many white individuals have an “emotional investment in the myth of ‘sameness’”, but that the dominance of whiteness is reinforced through their actions and serves as a sign of who they really are and what they really think. (167).

Bell Hooks continues to give some examples of how this representation and knowledge of whiteness has developed in her own life as an African American. She writes about how she had to walk through a white neighborhood to get to her grandmother’s house. She writes, “I remember the fear, being scared to walk to Baba’s, our grandmother’s house, because we would have to pass that terrifying whiteness – those white faces on the porches staring us down with hate. Even when empty or vacant those porches seemed to say danger, you do not belong here, you are not safe” (175). Hooks writes on page 169 that this representation of whiteness “…is not formed in reaction to stereotypes but emerges as a response to the traumatic pain and anguish that remains a consequence of white racist domination, a psychic state that informs and shapes the way black folks “see” whiteness”.

I found this article written by Hooks difficult to summarize and also a little difficult to take in. Although it is troubling that a knowledge and image of whiteness has developed into fear and anguish in the minds and hearts of African Americans, it is also troubling that this knowledge and these images are still prevalent and developing in society today. Hooks’ article is rather harsh, but at the same time I feel as if the reality of her article is what turns my stomach so much. What is even more frustrating is that I cannot find a stable or realistic solution in her article. Although it seems that her solution is to deconstruct the “association of whiteness as terror in the black imagination…” and to “…decolonize our minds and our imaginations,” I do not feel as if the solution could possibly be that simple (178).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Con-Fusing" Exotica

In this article titled, “Con-Fusing” Exotica, Producing India in U.S. Advertising, written by Sanjukta Ghosh, the author addresses the lack of positive representation of individuals from India in advertisements that are shown in the United States. I found this article extremely interesting, however, at times I felt as if the author went a bit overboard in his criticism of U.S. ads and their lack of accurate representations of India and the people in India.

Ghosh is rather harsh in his criticisms of U.S. advertising. Yet, many of Ghosh’s points seem to open my eyes at least to the fact that U.S. advertisements are taking advantage only of what India can do for the U.S. The advertisements are not representing India’s rich culture or diverse individuals. On page 275 of the book in which Ghosh’s article is printed titled Gender, Race, and Class in Media, A Text Reader, written by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, Ghosh writes that “…monetarist policies of the U.S. capitalist economy…has needed South Asian labor but has never been able to come to terms with the presence of this community in the U.S. landscape. This has led to a situation where Indians in America, even if they have been naturalized citizens for generations are treated as sojourners rather than as immigrants, people needed, as Vijay Prashad (2000) has said, for their labor, not their lives”.

The quote above basically states the rest of Ghosh’s article. Ghosh writes and gives examples of how advertisements in the U.S. depict pieces of Indian culture, usually having to do with a style of clothing or the advertisement itself, but never actually depict the richness of Indian culture, or even individuals from India. In clothing ads in which the designer has based their collection off of styles from India usually do not use models from India. Instead, white models are used. Ghosh writes about an advertisement specifically from Vogue magazine which depicted a man from India engaging in some Indian stereotypes such as worship, being a taxi driver, etc. Ghosh stresses that these ads do not depict the culture of India in any way. Rather, the advertisements demean individuals from India and the diverse culture of India.

Because of the lack of representation of individuals from India, the imperial ambitions of the West are revealed. On page 276, Ghosh describes three results of this lack of representation. “First, absence helps reinforce a group’s already-held location in the power structure…the absence of South Asian Americans reinforces their absence in the power structure…Second…absence makes it possible for media empires to achieve a racially cleansed visual environment that reinforces the notion of who is “us” and who is “them,” who is “in” and who is “out””…Third, absence also allows those in power to recode the cultural identities of minority groups such as Indians in a way so that they can be used in a war against other minority groups…at times Indian Americans are constructed as the “usurping hordes” and at other times as a “model minority” (276).

At the end of his article, Ghosh explains his concern for the representation of Indians in media and suggests some various solutions. Ghosh writes that the media need to emphasize the vast differences of Indians in America in terms of gender, class, age, etc. The media also needs to appreciate and stress the importance of the fact that the identities of American Indians are always changing as “the political and economic climate changes”. The media “…need to move away from pictures of a Hindu India to a more complex, complicated vision of what India truly is – a poly-religious, polyglot amalgamation of principalities that only in recent years came to be known as a unified state” (280).

Spanish/Indian Coke Commercial

This commercial is a Spanish advertisement for Coca Cola. In this advertisement, the servant who is a male from India is having what seems to be a stressful day. However, when he grabs and guzzles a coke, his day turns into a Bollywood themed day with dancing and singing and sparkles. The comments underneath this youtube video suggest that the entire commercial is in Spanish with an “Indian” theme. Other than a man who looks like he may be from India who sings and dances to Indian sounding music, there really are no other true representations of India. All of the actors other than the Indian servant are white and there really is nothing shown in the ad that depicts Indian culture. Perhaps this advertisement shows that Spain also represents India in stereotypical ways and is also at fault for the absence of India in advertisements. However, I feel as if many cultures are not always positively or fully represented in advertisements. It is not only individuals from India whose rich cultures are not represented in advertisements.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Native Americans, Chicanos, and Asian Americans: Social Movements and the Media

In Stephanie Greco Larson’s chapter titled Native Americans, Chicanos, and Asian Americans: Social Movements and the Media, in her book, Media & Minorities, the Politics of Race in News and Entertainment, Larson writes about a few different social movements of those three racial minority groups and how the mass media covered those movements.

First, Larson writes about American Indian movements and how the media covered their stories. She writes about the American Indians claiming Alcatraz in 1969, the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the confrontation at Wounded Knee. Larson writes that although each movement was covered by the media, it was not always covered positively. Many of the American Indian social movements were organized and designed in a way that promoted the use of media and made it easier for the media to cover each situation. This helped to promote positive coverage through the beginning stages of the movements. However, the mass media portrayed the American Indians in many stereotypical situations. The American Indians were able to use these stereotypes to bring attention and news media to their social movements, but often times the media portrayed the protesters as negative or “violent” which obviously showered negative views about the American Indians movements and intentions.

Second, Larson writes about Chicano social movements and the coverage of these movements by the media. Larson writes about coverage on the Organization of Farm Workers, the Crusade for Justice, and the Chicano Youth Movement. What was found was that there was little coverage by the media of each movement. Larson discusses the Poor People’s Campaign, organized by Martin Luther King Jr. This campaign contained mostly Mexican people. However, coverage in the national newsmagazines “…characterized it (the Poor People’s Campaign) as a “black even”” (187). Chicanos were depicted as negative and in conflict with black individuals involved in the campaign. Larson writes that in much of the coverage of Chicano social movements, “…disruptive and violent stereotypes were common” (189).

Finally, Larson writes about the coverage of the Asian American Movement. Larson discusses the Third World Strike at San Francisco State University in 1968-69. Again, there was little press coverage of this movement. Larson writes that this could be due to the lack of organization on the movement’s part. On page 190, Larson writes, “The lack of a national leader, the concentration of supporters in a few geographic areas, and the lack of a specific plan of action would help explain a lack of visibility” (190). What was more effective was the alternative press created by the Asian American social movement.

Larson writes in her conclusion that there was little positive news coverage of each of the social movements within American Indians, Chicanos and Asian Americans. Larson writes that much of the nature of the coverage was based on ‘violent’ acts and that “The most favorable coverage was given to the least radical events and individuals” (192). Larson writes that best positive and most effective coverage came from a parallel press that each movement had.

HACER – Hispanic American Center for Economic Research


“The Hispanic American Center for Economic Research is a 501(c)(3) organization that is supported entirely through gifts from individuals, philanthropic foundations, and corporations. Its goal is to promote the study of issues pertinent to the countries of Hispanic America as well as Hispanic Americans living in the United States, especially as they relate to the values of personal and economic liberty, limited government under the rule of law, and individual responsibility. HACER does this by both generating and supporting independent research.” - HACER

I decided to look up news stories regarding Hispanic Americans and I came across this online news source. HACER says that they recognize the growing population of Hispanics in the U.S. and how they are largely and typically underrepresented in news media and public debates. HACER was established in 1996 and states that one of its purposes is to look at problems in other countries (specifically South American countries) and bring about awareness and discussion across national borders:

“While there are a number of important Latin American research institutes sympathetic to the cause of liberty and free markets, none has traditionally taken a "regional" - as opposed to a country-specific - perspective to these issues. HACER was founded to fill this vacuum by studying common problems faced in different countries, thereby creating important dialogue across national borders about best practices, ongoing challenges, and other lessons learned” - HACER

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Asian American Representation in News Media

In chapter eleven titled Asian American Mass Publics in the News, in the book, Media & Minorities, The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment, written by Stephanie Greco Larson, the representation of Asian Americans in news is addressed. Basically, very little positive representations of Asian Americans can be seen in news history. Articles about Asian Americans are less frequent than articles regarding Hispanics or African Americans.

When Asian Americans are represented in news media, they are often times represented negatively. Larson writes that, “Asian Americans often appear in crime news as suspects or gang members…Some news representations of Asian Americans demonize them…Media coverage also trivializes Asian Americans” (132, 134). I find it particularly interesting when Larson writes on page 134, “The words “Asian” and “Asian American” are often used interchangeably in news stories”. Larson continues to explain how Korean Americans are often referred to as Koreans, and I believe you can witness the same trend with Chinese Americans. Larson writes that the lack of including “American” supports the notion of “Asian Americans as “not American”” (134).

Another stereotype of Asian Americans that Larson addresses is the “model minority stereotype” (135). Larson writes on page 135, “The model minority is hardworking and intelligent, but also docile and deferential. Asian Americans, according to this stereotype are successful, patriotic, and law abiding and have stable families”. Although this may not be seen entirely as a negative stereotype, Larson writes on page 135 that “the stereotype denies the discrimination and hardships experienced by this group by focusing on individual successes in the areas of employment and education”. Larson writes that it is difficult for individuals who may not exactly fit the “model” because they may not live up to the assumptions that all Asian Americans are high achievers.

Towards the end of the article, Larson writes about “The Asian American Parallel Press” (139). The Asian American press has had a long difficult history. It has been monitored by the government, requiring the news to be translated into English. Despite its difficulties, Larson writes on page 141, “...the Asian ethnic press supports the various Asian cultures and helps to maintain their respective communities, even in times of censorship and repression”.

Wakamatsu - Model Minority in Major League Baseball History

This article is about Don Wakamatsu, the first Asian American manager in major league history, hired by the Seattle Mariners. Although the article includes a statement by the Marines general manager commending Wakamatsu, there is nothing about Wakamatsu’s past, ethnic or social in terms of achievements, etc, and there is no statement from Wakamatsu himself. The article is, however, quick to point out that Wakamatsu was not the “fan favorite”. Even so, the article really says nothing negative about Wakamatsu. However, it is a very brief article for something that seems as major as the first Asian American manager in major league baseball history.

This article on ESPN’s website gives a more extensive cover of Wakamatsu. It especially covers his past and Japanese culture, including a brief history of his parents and how they grew up living in interment camps. Much of the brief history towards the beginning of the article is centered on the hard working characteristics of Wakamatsu’s close relatives. I suppose this was to support the fact that ESPN and others believe that Wakamatsu is extremely hard working and successful and will be able to hopefully bring some of his own personal success onto the Mariners who apparently have not been too successful in the past.

This final article is from the Seattle Times. Although this article again states the misfortunes of the Mariners in terms of major league baseball success, the author also states the hope that Wakamatsu is bringing to the team because he himself is respectable and successful. However, unlike the other two articles, this article mentions nothing about Wakamatsu’s ethnic past or even that he is Asian American or the first Asian American manager in major league baseball history. I find this extremely interesting especially because Wakamatsu is the manager for Seattle’s baseball team, the Mariners, and this is a Seattle newspaper. You would think they would have more pride in someone who is managing their baseball team.

In all, I feel as if the ESPN article did an exceptional job in describing Wakamatsu and especially his past. Although it was mainly about the success of his past and how that has contributed to his success as an individual, thus possibly supporting the “model minority stereotype” that Larson discusses, I do feel as if this article from ESPN shows a great deal more respect for Wakamatsu than the Seattle Time’s article does.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

O.J. Simpson - The Greatest Story Ever Sold

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In the book, Gender Race and Class in Media, a Text Reader, written by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, the chapter titled, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, Marketing and the O.J. Simpson Trial, written by George Lipsitz really does not really mention race as a factor in the popularity of marketing the O.J. Simpson Trial. Even so, the O.J. Simpson Trial became an extremely popular story and marketing product within many different modes of media. Lipsitz writes that the trial’s story gained popularity and sold well because the O.J. trial contained the necessary elements that have to do with the main themes that “…organize television discourse in the United States” (179). Those main themes are, “…the primacy of products as the center of social life, the stimulation and management of appetites, and alarm about the family in jeopardy” (179). LIpsitz writes on page 179 that “A story linking any of these two categories will always make the news…the O.J. Simpson trial…contained all these elements necessary to televisual representation: it was a story about products, appetites, and the family in jeopardy”.

O.J’s role as an athlete, actor, and celebrity also enhanced the marketing of his trial. Lipsitz writes that O.J.”s trial could have come out of several murder television shows, celebrity shows, and shows about the courtroom. Lipsitz writes that the trial was able to “…bring together the various apparatuses of advertising, publicity, spectator sports, motion pictures, television, and marketing into a unified totality generating money0making opportunities at every turn” (178). Not only was the main character in the trial, O.J., used for marketing purposes, but individuals directly and indirectly involved in the trial were also used. One example includes defense witness Brian “Kato” Kaelin receiving his own talk show from a Los Angeles radio station. Jurors wrote books about the trial and the judge was even offered a $1 million role in a television program (178).

The only part in which Lipsitz refers to the African American community and the trial’s effects on that community is when Lipsitz writes about the trial’s popularity within televised news networks. Among CNN, Court TV, Entertainment Tonight, and other shows, BET also witnessed a rise in viewers throughout O.J.’s trial. This was largely due to the fact that BET conducted a live interview with O.J. Simpson. However, Lipsitz suggests that Simpson’s involvement in “diverse areas of entertainment gave him the kind of visibility that television loves to recycle and repackage” (177). Thus, the O.J. Simpson trial was able to be marketed across many different areas of media; cable and broadcast television networks, newspapers, magazines, literature, videotapes, etc.

In Bias Test, Shades of Gray- New York Times

Although this article has little to do with representations of racial-minorities in the news, I found it quite interesting. In an article written on November 17, 2008 in the New York Times titled In Bias Test, Shades of Gray, computer testing intended to reveal unconscious racial bias was addressed. In this article, the author writes that tests to uncover unconscious biases towards African American people are not as legitimate as they once were thought to be. The author writes, “The test is widely used in research, and some critics acknowledge that it’s a useful tool for detecting unconscious attitudes and studying cognitive processes. But they say it’s misleading for researchers to give individuals ratings like “slight,” “moderate” or “strong” — and advice on dealing with their bias — when there isn’t even that much consistency in the same person’s scores if the test is taken again” (NYTimes). A psychologist at Texas A&M interviewed for the article suggested that the test itself is biased and too controlled by a small amount of people. The psychologist basically wrote off the test as inaccurate and useless.

I find it interesting that one of the main stories on the New York Time’s website is an article writing off the validity of a computerized bias test. I felt that the article was telling me that bias tests are illegitimate and should not be considered factual. Although I don’t necessarily feel as if the article was completely supporting the idea that most Americans are not racially biased, I felt that because the article was trying almost to disprove the validity of the test, the article was also saying that most Americans today are not racially biased. I’m not completely sure that I agree with this article, however, I am also not sure that I agree that bias tests are entirely valid.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Media Coverage of Candidates and Politicianshttp

In the chapter, Media Coverage of Candidates and Politicians: An Introduction, in the book titled Media & Minorities, The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment written by Stephanie Greco Larson, the author discusses how candidates and politicians are represented in media. The author writes that candidates and politicians accuse the media of falsely representing their messages in a way that “hinder their (the politicians and candidates) ability to communicate with the people” (195). However, the press claims that “politicians and candidates manipulate and use them for ends inconsistent with the purpose of a free and open press” (195). It seems to me, and I believe Larson would agree with me that neither the politicians nor the press can be ‘successful’ without the other.

The author continues to write about how media covers politicians and their campaigns. Larson writes on page 196, “Media coverage of campaigns focuses on style over substance, strategy over ideals and people over processes…Candidates and politicians become characters in a giant political play or sitcom.” With the recent election and media coverage of campaigning from Obama and McCain, it is obvious that the media does portray candidates and politicians as dramatic characters in a play. I feel as if the candidates switch characters many times, one as the protagonist and the other as the antagonist and so on.

The author continues to write about the amount and type of coverage a candidate might receive from the media. I found it particularly interesting when Larson wrote on page 197, “Those (candidates) who are authentically outsiders receive less and worse coverage than insiders. Sometimes candidates who are not ideologically extreme and who have political experience, resources, and connections that make them insiders successfully campaign as “outsiders.”…the media find outsider rhetoric appealing as long as those using it are not really outsiders.”

Media coverage of Candidates is extremely important because it brings candidates popularity, or unpopularity among the public who controls the candidate’s probability of being elected or re-elected. The author writes that even sometimes simple name recognition within the public eye is important enough. Larson writes on page 198, “…party identification is no longer as important…people want to know more than the party label before they vote for a candidate. Sometimes just recognizing a candidate’s name is enough.” Media can also “influence or destroy” the popularity of a candidate with the “coverage’s tone and treatment” (198). Larson uses the example of the agenda setting role. She writes that “agenda setting tells voters “not what to think, but what to think about”” (199). Larson writes that “if one candidate’s issue agenda is ignored, and another’s gets extensive coverage, then the media’s agenda-setting role will help the first candidate” (199). I’m not completely sure that I agree with that statement. I feel the more I know about one candidate, the more I may agree with that candidate. If I know little about another candidate, and am too lazy to research myself, I may vote for the candidate that receives more coverage because the media made it convenient for me to understand that particular candidate.

In all, this chapter was basically an introduction about media coverage on politicians and candidates. Although coverage of candidates and politicians is not always accurate or truthful to the politics, those who are receiving coverage from the media need that coverage in order to gain popularity within the public and have a chance at winning an election. Media also can not survive without politics. They need the stories and the slander, the excitement in order to create interesting coverage for the public eye.

I chose this media representation because it shows how the press can been seen as ‘biased’. In this clip, the press is criticized for giving Barack Obama a ‘free ride’ in terms of press coverage. The press is accused of creating a more positive image for Obama than Hillary, President Bush, and other candidates. I feel as if this clip is extremely self-explanatory and is interesting in terms of describing how the press works and how the press can even be criticized by other news sources.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Race/Ethnicity in Media

In this article written by Minu Lee and Chong Heup Cho, entitled, Women Watching Together, An Ethnographic Study of Korean Soap Opera Fans in the United States, the authors interviewed and analyzed a few Korean females regarding their soap opera watching habits.

The authors state that this particular chapter “…concerns a question of “why is it that some Korean housewives in America prefer Korean soap operas to American ones?”” (482). However, the part of this chapter that was put into the second edition of Gender, Race, and Class in Media, a Text-Reader written by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, I felt addressed more specifically cultural norms within Korean families, especially Korean husbands and wives, and how they are different from traditional American values. Korean soap operas were only used to show an example of Korean marriages and how they may differ from American marriages.

The authors interviewed a few women regarding soap operas and why and how they view Korean soap operas. Most of the women expressed that they had to either watch soap operas alone, with female friends, or not at all because their husbands thought the soap operas to be so silly and trivial. Many of the interviewees said that they had to continue to watch the soap operas even if it meant being sneaky about it because it was their only way to relieve stress. Korean husbands, however, thought that the viewing of these soap operas was stupid because the operas were trashy. The authors write on page 483,

“The common strategy for the husband to discourage his wife from watching soap operas is to compare her viewing choice to that of a housemaid. The usual comment…makes the women feel shame as they violate the natural law of the Confucian notion of family which specifies the role and the status of each family member based on gender and age…the woman must not only respect her husband and elders but also must not damage the family image and honor”.

In this, the book addresses the difficulties that Korean women have with watching something that may distort their image in the household according to their husbands. This really has nothing to do with whether or not they prefer American or Korean soap operas. The chapter continues to discuss how Korean women form a “video club”, which consists of female friends to watch soap operas with. The women interviewed express that this “club” not only allows for an appropriate “private” time to watch soap operas, but more importantly, the club also gives the women a chance to gossip and talk about their issues and problems with their husbands. It gives the women a bit of ‘control’ over their own lives of which are often times controlled by the higher ‘social power’, the husband. So, as the book notes on page 485, “…this politics of family between husband’s power and wife’s resistance has little to do with the program itself. This struggle for meanings and pleasures already exists even before women watch the program”.

It is not until the very end of this section that the author finally addresses Korean versus American soap operas. When Korean women were interviewed regarding whether they preferred American soap operas over Korean soap operas or Korean over American, they said that they enjoyed American soap operas, but preferred Korean soap operas. The interviewees said that the ideas in American soap operas are ‘American,’ not Korean, and they would rather watch a program that addresses their own cultural values, norms and ideas.

Media Representations of Race/Ethnicity

I chose these two media representations of ethnicity/race because they're so blatant. Both of these representations are from a comedy show on FX called, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This television show is extremely bizarre and takes stereotypes to the limit. In the first clip, a part of the show is displayed in which the main characters are doing ‘community service’ by helping to coach a youth basketball team. One of the characters “chooses” his team and picks all of the African American kids to be on his team. When the other main characters enter, they are upset and tell him that he can’t choose all of the African American kids. The rest of the scene ends by being extremely uncomfortable and the characters can’t say exactly what they want to say for fear of sounding racist. The second clip is another clip supporting racial stereotypes from an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Both of these representations are extremely harsh and for some reason, many of us find laughter and comedy in these representations of different races. Does comedy legitimize or give the “okay” to supporting stereotypes?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Racial Chameleon

In chapter one, entitled The Racial Chameleon in the book, The Black Image in the White Mind, Media and Race in America, written by Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki, the two authors basically give an introduction or overview of their entire book. It seems that their writings are based solely on the relationship between media and white society and how media’s portrayal of African Americans, or lack thereof, has influenced the gap between African Americans and White individuals in the United States.

The two authors argue that matters or race and forms of racism are still extremely evident in American society, but have been cloaked “in a chameleon-like form” (1). Entman and Rojecki argue that “the unresolved conflicts over facts and their interpretation” regarding race, has contributed to an ambivalent state of mind for many white Americans (1). This ambivalent attitude towards African Americans is reinforced by what the authors refer to as a “paradox of racial progress” (3). While excited about African American progress in society, White Americans are still faced with anxiety towards the African American race because of “Blacks’ new assertiveness and power after World War II” (3). The authors write on page 4, “Deferential behavior on the part of members of the out-group stimulates affectionate condescension among the in-group; assertiveness does not”.

The authors suggest that media content has played a large role in the existing negative White American view of African Americans. Along with personal experience, “…audiences interpret a narrative or image through filters shaped by other media content…” (4). The authors argue that media portrays Blacks and Whites as completely different groups of people and from totally different “moral universes” (4). Media also enforces Whites’ abilities and tendencies to create, embellish and therefore misinterpret differences among Black individuals. The authors also suggest that in the minds of White America, “Blacks now occupy a kind of limbo status…neither fully accepted nor wholly rejected by the dominant culture” (7).

Throughout the rest of this chapter, the authors continue to discuss basically what they will reveal throughout the rest of their book. This chapter is apparently more useful as an introduction to the book itself. However, the authors present an interesting solution to “the racial chameleon”. On page 11, the authors state that their “normative ideal” is that of brotherhood. However, they use the term “racial comity” defining it in terms of the Oxford English Dictionary as “courtesy, civility; kindly and considerate behavior towards others”. They suggest that comity “would allow Whites and Blacks to see common interests and values more readily and thus to cooperate in good faith to achieve mutually beneficial objectives” and that “they act kindly and empathetically enough to see beyond skin color to their own shared interests in a more effective and harmonious society” (12). I would argue, and based on this introduction, Entman and Rojecki would probably agree that media plays a huge role in supporting this or negating this “comity” in the minds of White and Black Americans. Because media plays such a large role in the lives of Americans, it is crucial that either media changes its content to sustain the idea of comity, or Black and White Americans learn to analyze what they are receiving from media so that they are able to discern what are true and false representations of race.

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I chose this image of Barack Obama because of what is happening today in American society. Entman and Rojecki wrote on page 8, “…Blacks are rarely consulted for their considered opinions. On these dimensions the news rarely publicize Blacks’ contributions to America’s serious business, making the images that do appear all the more suggestive of a generally irresponsible clan seizing more than their share of generosity’s bounty”.

I wonder with the popularity of Obama and his presence in American society today, if Entman and Rojecki would write anything different? If Barack is elected as President of the United States, will his presence begin to chip away at this “Racial Chameleon”? Since Obama would be more prevalent especially in media, will the opinions of African Americans be more substantial and influential in society?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

David Bowie - Role Model??

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In this chapter titled Directions for Living; Role models, pop music and self-help discourses, of David Gauntlett’s Book, Media Gender and Identity: An Introduction, Gauntlett looks at various examples of role models and other “products” that help to shape an individual’s identity.

Gauntlett begins by describing what a role model is. On page 211, Gauntlett describes a role model as “ ‘someone to look up to,’ and someone to base your character, values or aspirations upon”. Many of these role models especially in pop culture have been music icons, political leaders, actors and other artists. Many of these role models have something to do with being examples for young women or young girls.

Gauntlett continues his discussion by describing six different types of role models. Those six types are, “the ‘straightforward success’ role model, the triumph over difficult circumstances’ role model, the ‘challenging stereotypes’ role model, the ‘wholesome’ role model, the ‘outsider’ role model, and the family role model” (215). Although I can see Gauntlett’s point in that each of these different types have actually been role models or leaders and examples to individuals, I do not necessarily agree with each type of role model. It seems to me that most of these role models are only role models and examples because of their popularity. I feel as if Gauntlett forgets to mention that many of the role models that have influence in individual’s lives are people that are not famous or popular. Role models could be grandparents, friends etc. Although Gauntlett does mention the ‘family role model’ type which does say that the category includes looking up to members of your own family, he still does mention the fact that society looks up to the rich and famous ‘family’ as a role model for their own families. I believe that most of our role models are individuals who are not necessarily famous. Some of the most influential individuals in my own life were not famous or well known, and I believe that Gauntlett makes it seem as if role models can only be people who have a lot of influence or popularity, etc. Possibly I’m wrong, and Gauntlett does point out on page 216 in reference to a study done that “…it would be inappropriate to infer that the majority of these people felt that famous role models were deeply important to them; and we can note that when asked to name their greatest overall role model, 63 percent of respondents chose one of their own parents”, however, the chapter is entitled Directions For Living, and I know that I am probably not directing my life based on famous wealthy individuals in popular culture.

Gauntlett continues to write that there have been ‘role models’ such as the Spice Girls who have influenced young ladies and the idea of “girl power”. Gauntlett writes on page 218, “The ‘girl power’ concept was a celebration for self-belief, independence and female friendship…” and some influential individuals that became role models for this ‘girl power’ concept include girl-groups such as the Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child. Along the same lines were male artists that influenced male identity. One interesting case that Gauntlett points out on page 222 is a situation in which a younger man felt that he could not identify with some male pop music because he was confused about his sexuality. It was not until he purchased a CD by David Bowie that he really felt he could relate because of David Bowie’s homoerotic lyrics.

Gauntlett takes things a bit further when he dedicates a few pages in his chapter to discussing Brittney Spears’ influence as a role model throughout her career. He discusses how many fans have viewed Spears as a role model because she was able to inspire women and especially teen girls around the world. However, Gauntlett does point out that Brittney has been criticized (and rightly so in my opinion) because of her risqué clothing and provocative dance moves. However, some fans stated that they thought that the way she dressed and danced showed her independence and uniqueness and therefore dubbed her as a role model because of her ability to ‘be herself.’

At the end of his chapter, Gauntlett discusses self-help books. There are self help books which address “personal narratives and lifestyles” which could be about “transforming the self” or attaining a more positive personal view and identity of their own selves and others. Gauntlett points out an interesting point when he says in relation to a quote from Foucault, “…we can learn about our culture by looking at its self-help books…” (239). Gauntlett points out that there are self help books for men, and self help books for women. Gauntlett does a good job in summarizing the “most common self-help messages” on page 244 which are, “believe in yourself and you can achieve anything, you can’t let the world ‘happen’ to you; instead you must take control of your life, it may not be obvious what would make you happy in life, and what is available to you, women and men are fundamentally similar on the ‘inside’…and can adopt new ways of thinking and behaving so they can become fully-functioning, balanced, self-assured, emotionally intelligent people, and finally, change is always possible”.

Gauntlett finishes this chapter by summarizing what he has discussed. He writes on page 246 that through what he has previously written, “…we see possible insecurities within modern self-identities being addressed through fearless, confident discourses, generally in a glamorous and aspirational form”. I’m not sure that addressing insecurities within yourself about your identity are best addressed through “glamorous and aspirational forms” only because I’m not sure how reliable these ‘glamorous’ forms are. I believe that Gauntlett did a good job in discussing these ‘glamorous’ forms of addressing self identity. However, it is our responsibility to take matters into our own hands and only pull out from some of these forms what is necessary for our own self identities and be okay with the fact that our self identities may not come from popular culture (which really shouldn’t be that difficult to be okay with).

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I really don’t like self help books. In fact, I despise self help books. These two self help books make it seem as though 7 steps is all it takes to change your life. As Gauntlett pointed out, one of the messages of self help books is “change is always possible”. I didn’t realize that change was possible in only 7 steps! If I could change my entire life and become happier, fitter, and more productive and have more potential, I think I would buy the book. However, I can not imagine that anyone in their right mind would think that changing their lives would be possible in 7 steps unless the 7 steps took 7 years. Possibly, as Gauntlett also pointed out, maybe these two books say something about our contemporary culture. Our culture today demands so many things to happen in short amounts of time. With technology, we can see results of different procedures, surgeries, surfing the internet, cooking foods in microwaves, in a matter of seconds. Are these self help books just emphasizing the fact that we demand so many things so very quickly? And I know, and hopefully others know that you cannot possibly change your life in only 7 steps…I’m not even sure that there is any set number of ‘steps’ that one can take to change their life and live a better life. Changing your life takes time and effort. A self help book cannot and probably will not be the answer. Self help books can encourage and give insight, but it really frustrates me and makes me angry that there are people out there who buy into books that say things such as “Your Best Life Now – in 7 Steps”. Only you can know what your “best life” looks like and I don’t think that you can have a “best life” in 7 steps. Of course, I’ve never read either of these two books, so I could be completely wrong, but I have no intention of reading the books or following the 7 steps to develop the “best life” I could ever have.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer = Girl Power?

In the article, The Buffy Effect Or, A Tale of Cleavage and Marketing written by Rachel Fudge, Fudge addresses the 90’s hit television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how Buffy, the main character is, or is not, a feminist icon. The author, Fudge, starts out the article by explaining how Buffy is an exception to the classic main characters of horror films. In the T.V. shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is blonde, beautiful, and as Fudge states multiple times throughout the article, a symbol of femininity. Contrary to most classic horror films in which the blonde female character is usually the one being hunted or the character shown running away in terror, Buffy is the protagonist and the main character who slays the evil monsters who present themselves during the show. Fudge continues to explain the plot of the actual show, which is basically about a high school aged female who finds herself in situations which require her to slay vampires and monsters while also tackling the daily frustrations of high school female life.

Throughout most of the article, Rachel Fudge praises Buffy’s character by writing that Buffy is an icon for girl power and femininity. I feel as if the author gives Buffy’s character more credit than she’s due, however. Fudge writes on page 2 of her article that “Buffy could be the poster girl for an entire decade of girl-oriented mass media/culture.” Fudge continues to write that because Buffy is feisty, “an angsty alternateen” yet able to wear tiny dresses and tank tops and knows how to perfectly apply her makeup and do her hair, that she is an icon and an example for females, especially females in the 90’s. I never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I’m not sure I agree that Buffy’s character is or should be an icon for women. However, in our culture which is consumed with achieving power and being independent and strong yet beautiful, I can see how Buffy has become an icon for women and femininity.

Towards the end of the article, Fudge does criticize Buffy’s character. Fudge writes, “Herein lie the limitations in the Buffy phemon: “Girl power” as articulated in the mass media (and mass marketing) is often misrepresented as de facto feminism, when in fact it’s a diluted imitation of female empowerment” (5). Fudge continues to write that the idea of “girl power” often relies too heavily on style and the material rather than “substance”. Much of what is in the Buffy television series, such as Buffy’s clothing and some props are now available at various clothing retailers and merchandise stores.

However, Fudge writes that Buffy has been able to create a feminine heroine who is strong and feisty which would appeal to men (also because she is beautiful and wears tiny shirts) yet Buffy is still able to keep her femininity in terms of her ability to put the right makeup on and wear the right clothing. I can understand Fudge’s point that Buffy’s character, as unrealistic as a vampire slayer may be, is able to appeal to all audiences and create a positive image of a female heroine. And, I might have to agree with what Fudge writes on page 5, “Call her a Hard Candy-coated feminist heroine for the girl-power era. And it isn’t just the pubescent boys who like their heroines sweet: This pastel veneer might just be the necessary spoonful of sugar to make the pro-feminist message palatable to network honchos, the marketing crew, and teen viewers alike.”

La Femme Nikita

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This movie, La Femme Nikita is about a woman who was involved in a crime and caught by the police. However, rather than throw her into jail or sentence her to death, the ‘government’ decides to train her as a top secret assassin. The beginning of the film portrays Nikita as a rough drug addicted woman who ruthlessly murders a cop by shooting him in the face. She is feisty and stubborn and refuses to cooperate (she curses a lot, too). While she is being trained to become an assassin, she learns how to become ‘feminine’ by taking classes with an older woman who teaches her how to apply makeup like a woman, talk like a woman, eat like a woman, etc.

Throughout the rest of the film, Nikita learns to be feminine while also learning how to put together a gun, perform martial arts, and some computer skills. According to Fudge’s opinion of a feminine icon, I believe that Nikita might possibly be a better icon than Buffy. Nikita pulled herself out of her old habits and learned to be aggressive and beautifully feminine at the same time. Of course, Nikita would have been killed by the ‘government’ had she refused to comply with their demands.

I find it interesting, however, that when Nikita is faced with situations in which she must assassinate specific people, she is portrayed as nervous, as if she doesn’t want to do it, etc. Of course, who would really want to assassinate people anyway? Nikita never becomes comfortable with her aggressive, ‘assassin’ side. I get the feeling that she would much rather be with her love, lying in bed all day in her apartment.

However, Nikita learns to take advantage of her ‘femininity’ and what she has learned in terms of how to be a woman. She finds herself a very honorable boyfriend. Nikita also somehow finds a way to keep her ‘second life’ as a secret assassin a secret from her boyfriend. When confronted about the issue, Nikita pushes it aside or somehow wins her boyfriend over with her cuteness, thus taking advantage of her femininity. The message of this film is clear when the woman training Nikita says to Nikita, “Let your pleasure be your guide, your pleasure as a woman. And don’t forget…there are two things that have no limit; femininity and the means of taking advantage of it.”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Girls and Beauty

This article entitled, “The More You Sutbract, The More You Add:” Cutting Girls Down to Size, written by Jean Kilbourne really was not a surprise to me, but still mad my stomach turn. In this article, Kilbourne discusses the development of girl’s identities, especially the identities of adolescent girls and how these identities are shaped by media. She begins by discussing how girls are becoming more and more involved in destructive behavior. Jean Kilbourne writes that the gap between girls and boys is lessening in the sense that girls are closing the gap between boys academically but also that girls are becoming more involved in the destructive behavior of boys such as smoking, drinking and other drugs.
This need to or example of girls engaging in male activities is evident even as girls become older. According to Kilbourne, “Girls are put into a terrible double bind” (259). Girls are encouraged to be quite and talk nicely, softly, while at the same time, as they move into a professional setting, they are told to compete with men in terms of becoming successful in the business world.
Kilbourne discusses the repercussions of this ‘double bind’. Because of the pull to not only be submissive and girly but also demanding, successful and strong, it creates a distorted image in the lives of women today. Kilbourne continues to address some of the other obstacles women face in terms of the identity that media places of females. Kilbourne says that advertising has been one of the most influential areas in which a woman’s identity has been distorted. Kilbourne describes how advertisements encourage women to be submissive or quiet. She addresses some advertisements for cosmetics that display a thin model with a caption that may say something like “Make a statement without saying a word,” or “The silence of a look can reveal more than words” (263). Not only are women encouraged to stay quiet but at the same time attractive and influential (in terms of their looks), media advertisements are also influential in displaying a distorted image of a woman’s physical body.
Kilbourne addresses the problem that so many women face today: dieting and the need to be thin. I found it extremely surprising and disturbing when Kilbourne wrote in regards to dieting: “The obsession starts early. Some studies have found that from 40-80 percent of fourth-grade girls are dieting” (261). The need to look thin and to eat foods different from what men apparently can eat is only supported through advertisements. Unfortunately, this standard of a specific way to look and act is only reinforced through images that women see every day. The fact that it is affecting girls at such a young age is troubling, and as Kilbourne also addresses, dieting and these images in advertisements sells and brings in a ton of money to companies is also extremely disturbing.

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When I first looked at this advertisement, I wasn’t sure what they were selling. In fact I had to look at the actual website to conclude that the ad is selling Kate Spade shoes. I wasn’t sure if it was advertising clothing or bags or whatever. Anyway, what I see in this image is a college aged woman sitting awkwardly. I can’t imagine sitting in that position, it would be so uncomfortable. It seems as though she may have been studying outside with some friends since there are books scattered about. Maybe they were in a fight because their purses are scattered around as well. It looks as if they left a trail of books behind them before they decided to sit down and pull their knee-high socks up. Anyway, the fact that their books are scattered and thrown around along with what looks like their purses or bags shows me that these girls pretty much view their books as an accessory like their purses. The way these girls are dressed, or the one in which we see her entire body, also looks as if they are clowns with the extremely bright colors and mismatching outfit and frills around the neck of her shirt. I’m not really attracted to their shoes, either since all the shoes are the exact same style but a different bright wild color. Most importantly, the message I feel like I may be receiving from this advertisement is that books should be taken about as seriously as a handbag and that books may only be for clowns. Of course, some women take their purses EXTREMELY seriously and in that sense, if you are a woman who takes your purses seriously, then maybe this ad is telling women that books are serious too…along with a great pair of shoes. But, the fact that everything is thrown around, the colors are bright and chaotic and the girl shown in the ad is sitting awkwardly and uncomfortably makes me want to run away from this ad very quickly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Women's Magazines = Women's Identities?

Women’s Magazines and Female Identities Today

In the chapter entitled Women’s Magazines and Female Identities Today in David Gauntlett’s book, Media, Gender and Identity: an Introduction, David Gauntlett writes about women’s magazines and how these magazines have influenced or contributed to constructing a woman’s, in contemporary society, sense of identity. Gauntlett writes that through various studies, it has been shown that women’s magazines do not have as much influence in constructing a women’s identity as previously thought. Gauntlett writes that this ideology is not always automatic (182). Many women simply purchase these magazines to fill times of boredom or when in need of relaxation. Some women, which are used as examples throughout the chapter say that they purchase women’s magazines because they like the glossy feel of the pages, the colorful pictures etc.
Gauntlett continues to write specifically about women’s magazines and the content in those magazines. First, Gauntlett writes that there are many more popular women’s magazines in today’s culture than men’s magazines. Second, Gauntlett addresses the key themes in women’s magazines which he says are “all about the social construction of womanhood today” (187). The first key theme Gauntlett addresses is the theme of “men as sex objects” (187). Gauntlett writes that contrary to women’s objectification for decades in media aimed at men, now men are the ones being objectified in women’s media. Gauntlett writes that the same type of imagery and language that was originally associated with women in men’s media is now associated with men in women’s media. A second theme in women’s magazines is sex. Gauntlett writes that women’s magazines are extremely open about sex and have been highly criticized for their openness about sex and sexuality. Another criticism about women’s magazines have been their lack of ‘coverage of sex, because their articles are almost always heterosexual’ (189). In women’s magazines, lesbianism is not written about or exposed in great detail. A third theme that Gauntlett writes about is relationships. Women’s magazines have been accused of “suggesting that a man is the route to happiness” (191). However, Gauntlett writes that opposite of the traditional “desperate-for-marriage wallflower”, women’s magazines encourage women to be in control of seeking out and ‘hooking’ a man for themselves. If they do find a man, and he is a bore, then they should simply drop him and go looking for something better. The final key theme that gauntlet touches on is “transformation and empowerment” (191). Women’s magazines have been criticized for the fact that they create an ideal for women which in actuality most women will never be able to attain. Women’s magazines promote the healthy, beautiful, thin, successful, independent woman. This creates anxiety for women who find that they cannot achieve this ideal and could in effect encourage women to feel badly about themselves. On the other hand, women’s magazines do contain advice about beauty and health, advice for negative situations, ‘life affirming material’ and other positive topics (192).
The end of the chapter includes interviews and responses of various women regarding women’s magazines. I found it most interesting that many women admitted to purchasing magazines simply because of the feel of the magazine, the pictures, the glossy pages, etc. Ever since I was a little girl, I would always want to buy a magazine because of the thickness of the magazine, the pages, the pictures, the colors, etc. I never really was too interested in reading the articles necessarily, unless they were about health tips or beauty tips (makeup, skin care, etc). Rather, I was more interested in looking at the pictures of the models. I found it interesting in Diana Crane’s article entitled Gender and Hegemony in fashion Magazines: Women’s Interpretations of Fashion Photographs when she writes, “Feminists argue that media images of women are always directed at men and that women are encouraged to look at themselves and other women the way men do (Davis 1997)” (314). Not that I purchase women’s magazines to look at women the way men tend to look at women, but I can understand Davis’ point. I have found myself looking at the advertisements of women and images of women in various magazines and have been in a state of awe at their beauty or their sleekness, thinness, etc. I do not necessarily agree with Davis in that these images are always geared towards men, however. I think many of these images are geared towards women in that they make women want to look like that specific woman in the advertisement or image and the advertisers hope that women will want to look like the women in advertisements enough to purchase that specific product.
In all, I agree with many of the interviewees in Gauntletts article in that I do not feel that women’s magazines completely contribute to a women’s identity. There are many other factors in a women’s life that affect her sense of identity. I do agree, however, that women’s magazines create an ‘ideal woman’ that not every woman can attain.

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I chose to post this cartoon because I think it illustrates the 'ideal' that women may find in women's magazines today. There are so many magazines out there for women; for teen girls, women in their 20's and women of an older generation. I guess I never really took notice to the ideal that my mom's magazines were depicting. Thinking back, and even as I come across women's magazines today, many magazines geared towards older women are all about creating a 'younger' self. The magazines that I looked at as a younger girl, especially the fashion magazines, gave off the impression of trying to create an 'older' self. It's nauseating and a little bit scary that not too many magazines embrace the 'self' that you are at the moment. Women's magazines are always about improving your image, by either making yourself look 'less mature' or by trying to make yourself seem more 'professional' or more 'mature'.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sex, Lies and Advertising - Gloria Steinem

Ms. Magazine

This excerpt entitled Sex, Lies and Advertising, written by Gloria Steinem does not really live up to its name. Although it is about advertising and the difficulties that Ms. Magazine experienced in dealing with what ads to accept for their magazine, it does not really have to deal with sex. Ms. Magazine is a women’s magazine which not only discusses topics related to women, but also politics and feminist news. In this article, Gloria Steinem does discusses lies in relation to advertisers and their lack of interest in putting ads in Ms. Magazine. Gloria goes through different examples of the difficulties of allowing and not allowing specific advertisements in Ms. Magazine. Ranging from makeup ads to car ads, these examples are difficult to accept but a little funny at the same time.
One example that is really interesting and impacting deals with attracting ads for consumer electronics. The saleswoman of Ms. Magazine set out to convince advertisers to allow advertisements for electronics in Ms. Magazine. The response was negative. The executives refused saying that women have no interest or knowledge of electronics and if they do, they are only learning about it from their husbands and boyfriends. I found this particularly offensive because I know some men out there who have no idea how to use electronics and I know some women who know how to use and who love to use electronics more than any man I have ever met.
In all, this article is interesting because it discusses the difficulties that Ms. Magazine had to go through in dealing with advertisements. Particularly interesting was the fact that advertisers refused to put ads for electronics in Ms. Magazine because women apparently do not like to use electronics. I am curious as to how much this particular issue has changed throughout the course of almost 20 years since this article was written in 1990. Possibly because technology and electronics have become extremely prevalent in society today more advertisers are willing to put ads for electronics in Ms. Magazine. I wonder what Gloria Steinem would say about the difficulties of advertisements today?

I chose to display this comic because it depicts an interesting point. The website I found this comic on points out some interesting ideas as well. The person who decided to post this comic discussed how women tend to laugh or hide discomfort to mask embarrassment or even anger. The person who posted this makes a great point when they write: “Make a racist joke to a minority, and chances are the person will call you on it. Make a sexist joke about females, the woman is expected to laugh. If she gets annoyed, then it means she has no sense of humor.” I have found this to be true in some of my own interactions with individuals who make sexist jokes. Women are expected to laugh it off and if they get offended then they’re stuck up or dry.
This shows the difficulties that Gloria Steinem writes about in dealing advertisements in her magazine. A lot of the difficulties faced had to deal with the fact that some executives don’t take the ‘women’s movement’ seriously and therefore did not take Ms. Magazine seriously. I have a great respect already for Ms. Magazine and I’ve never even read or seen Ms. Magazine. But the fact that they were able to keep their magazine in support of the women’s movement despite difficulties shows that the individuals involved in the creation and popularity of Ms. Magazine deserve our respect.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Male Image - Sports

In this article titled ‘Hooligans, Studs and Queers’: Three Studies in the Reproduction of Hypermasculinity, Varda Burstyn addresses the idea of ‘hypermasculinity’ and how this trait is portrayed in media and its effects on culture. According to Burstyn, ‘hypermasculinity’ is “the belief that ideal manhood lies in the exercise of force to dominate others” (912). Burstyn continues to write about three examples of this ‘hypermasculine’ ideology and how they connect and influence directly men’s identities. The three examples Burstyn gives are, “British football hooliganism, the cult of the black super-athlete, and the convergence of gay culture with the athleticized body” (193). Each of these three examples has to do with sports developing the male ideology. Burstyn believes these three examples highly influence the male identity because of how influential sport culture has been in “shaping and homogenizing masculine ideals across, through, and despite the multiple and diverse masculinities of real men” (193).

First of all, Burstyn writes about ‘Football Hooliganism’ and its relation to the ‘hypermasculine’ identity. This ‘hooliganism’ refers to the individuals in the United Kingdom engaged in football (American soccer) violence. “Collective violence” was practiced around championship games and weekly games and often times had to be censored by police (195).

Green Street Hooligans

I chose this particular clip from youtube because is directly illustrates the construction of a violent male identity in media. This entire film is about the excitement of being a ‘hooligan’ or individual involved in ‘football violence’. This film shows how serious those involved in this lifestyle are and how exciting and rewarding the lifestyle can be. It portrays these men involved in football violence as tough and they portray an image that seems to be appealing to a male audience. The end of the film redeems itself in that the main character realizes that violence is not always necessarily the answer to life’s problems, but the rest of the film supports violence especially when used to defend yourself or your family/friends.

Second, Burstyn writes about the black ‘super-athlete’. Basically, Burstyn suggests that the rise of famous black athletes really does not help to take away the stereotypes of the African American race. This is because of the commercialization of the black athlete. The African American athlete who is supporting a specific company through being in commercials, wearing specific gear, etc is, according to Burstyn “not a fighter for equality, justice or community,” but rather a “corporate warrior” (207).

Kobe Bryant Nike Commercial

I chose this Nike commercial because it portrays a black ‘super-athlete’. He is not in this commercial to somehow fight for racial equality or justice in terms of the African American race. Rather, he is supporting Nike as a major corporation by wearing and using their gear. He is working hard to achieve success and showing that he can achieve success with Nike’s gear, which only supports Nike and brings Nike more money and recognition, not the African American male.

Finally, Burstyn discusses ‘homoeroticism’. In terms of sports, and especially with male sports, homosexuality has not been accepted. Those involved in sports have been considered ‘manly’ while those men not involved in sports have been referred to as “pansies, sissies and mama’s boys” (214). However, today in sports, Burstyn discusses how ‘homosexual’ actions such as a slap on the butt and some language used in male sports like football such as: “Stick it down their throats” and some other sexually oriented phrases are somehow accepted in these athletic settings. Is this simply because football is viewed as a manly sport that using phrases that may be used to discuss homosexual tendencies are acceptable? Burstyn raises some interesting points in discussing the male identity in view of homoerotic interests within sports and among those involved or interested in sports.

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I chose this image because it portrays how 'homosexual' phrases or actions are acceptable in sports, especially male sports. In sports such as football, which is considered a 'manly' sport, somehow, a slap on the butt is an acceptable way of saying 'good job' or 'great play', etc. This cartoon puts a funny spin on how sexual 'references' are acceptable in sports such as saying "You were great last night." It seems very ironic that this type of action or these words are acceptable in the realm of sports and within the vocabulary of these athletes but when confronted by someone else and accused of homosexuality, these athletes would be extremely offended.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gauntlett On: Men's Magazines and Masculinity

Chapter eight in David Gauntlett’s book, Media, Gender and Identity, an Introduction, Gauntlett writes about modern men’s magazines and how these magazines shape men’s identities. Gauntlett suggests that magazines may play a crucial role in the way men shape their identities in terms of masculinity (154).
Gauntlett begins by describing how men’s magazines have emerged. Gauntlett points out that the lack of men’s interest or lifestyle magazines was not important to producers of magazines because ‘glossy’ magazines or ‘lifestyle’ magazines were seen as something only for women. Pornography magazines existed, however. Gauntlett writes that it was not until 1994 that the men’s magazine market took off with the emergence of the UK magazine Loaded. Gauntlett continues in his chapter to describe what material particular men’s magazines such as Loaded, FHM, Maxim, Men’s Health, Front, and GQ include. Most of these magazines portrayed a specific ideal or image of men and how they had to be well put together, smart, well-dressed and associated with many beautiful, sometimes naked women, which would somehow define them as successful.
Gauntlett describes these men’s magazines as ironic. He writes, “The irony is used as a kind of defensive shield: the writers anticipate that many men may reject serious articles on relationships, or advice about sex, health or cooking, and so douse their pieces with humour, silliness and irony to ‘sweeten the pill’ (167). Apparently men can relate with humor and irony more than anything else. I suppose I can understand this in that I can see something similar in women’s magazines. Women’s magazines tend to focus on the emotional in terms of getting their female readers excited about a specific story.
Men’s magazines tend to use iron for a few different reasons. One of the reasons gauntlet points out that irony is used is to ‘protect masculinity’ (170). I suppose in terms of lifestyle magazine, learning how to live effectively, especially with women, can take away a man’s masculinity if told to the man in a truthful way rather than a humorous or entertaining manner.
I find it extremely interesting when Gauntlett continues to write that most men’s magazines today are focused on the social construction of a masculine identity. There are many factors today that affect the ‘masculine’ image. There are choices that men must make in regards to other prevalent views in society such as feminist views. Gauntlett suggests that the fact that the male image changes and continues to change results in men finding solace and advice in men’s lifestyle magazines.
Men’s magazines give men a chance to learn about a ‘masculine’ identity in a society which requires the male image to change over and over again. Not only can men learn about a specific lifestyle that they can create for themselves in present society, they can also learn through humorous stories all the while finding entertainment in women portrayed in the magazines. To be completely honest, I believe that men’s magazines hold the same goal as women’s magazines. Women’s magazines also shape a woman’s identity and sense of lifestyle as well as pictures of good looking men. In all I disagree with Gauntlett when he writes that producers of magazines do not believe that men would be interested in lifestyle magazines, I believe that it is proved today through many modern men’s magazines that men do enjoy lifestyle magazines. The only factor is attracting men to these particular magazines through humor and sex.
Obama: The Ideal Identity of a Man
I chose to look at this picture on the cover of GQ mainly because of the relationship between the words on the cover and the individual shown on the cover of this magazine. I believe this magazine is the September 2007 issue. It is interesting to look at who is on this cover (Obama) and who he is (a successful presidential candidate) and then to look at some of the titles placed on the cover of the magazine. Some of the words that really popped out to me were "winner" "Barack Obama Rules" "All Hail the Young" "Most Powerful People" "He's Rich, He's Your Friend..." Although I could be reading into much of this, I interpret this to mean that many of these words, or titles of articles included in the magazine define or directly relate with the magazines view of Obama. What this magazine cover is portraying is that Obama is a winner because he is young and he is powerful and the men who read this magazine are striving to be winners just as Barack Obama is a winner. The magazine is using Barack Obama and his success and power as an image or example for men to model and live their lives according to. This magazine cover accurately shows how a magazine can influence a man's idea or perception of his identity and masculinity.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Men as Consumers and Fashionistas

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In Kenon Breazeale’s article titled In Spite of Women – Esquire Magazine and the Construction of the Male Consumer, it is clearly noted in the beginning that the basic consumer has always been viewed as the middle-class female. Because of this Breazeale suggests that “…some of our era’s most aggressively one-dimensional representations of women have resulted from attempts to court men as consumers” (231). Breazeale suggests that Esquire magazine was the first attempt to attract an audience of male consumers. Because women were regarded so highly as the consumer, Esquire magazine had to take itself away from things that had been identified with women for such a long amount of time so that men would be attracted to the magazine. In that Esquire became a men’s magazine and “confronted the popular periodical industry” saying that “women as women have no legitimate social role to play” (235).
Breazeale goes on to write some of the implications and areas in which Esquire gained its popularity. When Esquire was first founded, the art of illustration was also developing. This helped Esquire in that illustrators could illustrate pictures of provocative women which were not tagged as pornography. The magazine also produced “adult” cartoons which had the same effect on men. These illustrations basically degraded women into ‘dumb’ creatures who were too “giggly” and “jiggly” to really have any impact on men other than for aesthetic pleasure.
It is interesting to me how little Esquire magazine has developed and how similar it is today as to what it was in the 20’s. The goal of the magazine seems to be quite similar. Breazeale writes, “Esquire demonstrated that…women-trashing as such could be packaged and sold to a large, prosperous bourgeois audience” (240). What I receive from this is that in order to attract the male consumer, which is a large portion of society and will bring a lot of money, women must be “fantasized sexually and trashed socially” (240). To me, this is extremely unfortunate and not only degrading to women, but also to men in that a majority of men are interested in the messages of magazines such as Esquire.
Johnny Depp - Real Life
I chose this image because it suggests that Esquire magazine has other things to offer other than images of attractive women for men to 'gaze' at and think about. I believe that another huge aspect of the attraction of Esquire magazine is that it gives men the ability to hear or view powerful men in society and learn from those powerful men.
On this cover of Esquire, Johnny Depp is portrayed as tough and manly and powerful. Behind him on the cover are the words "The Meaning of Life" as if Johnny holds the answers to the questions of life. I believe men are as attracted to this image as women are; of course in a different way. Men see Johnny as powerful and edgy and because of this he could possibly have the answers to the questions of life. Esquire knows that men will eat this up because through this magazine not only are they able to look at attractive women, but they are able to get advice from the men who seem to have it all together and know all of the answers regarding the difficult life of a man.

In the article written by John Beynon entitled, The Commercialization of Masculinities – From the ‘New Man’ to the ‘New Lad’, the idea of a ‘new man’, or new masculine identity is introduced. The first change came in the 1970’s and the 1980’s. Men’s changing role was a result of pro-feminism and the feminist movement. Men who agreed with the feminist movement and agreed with social change changed their own goals in that they “attempted to raise both their own and their fellow men’s consciousness and foster a more caring, sharing, nurturing man” (199). The idea of a mixed ‘breadwinner-homemaker’ role came about during this time as well.
The second identity Beynon writes about is that of the ‘new man-as-narcissist’ (202). This identity came about mainly during the 70’s and was associated with style and fashion. Beynon identifies some results of this new image. Places for men to purchase clothing exclusively flourished in the 80’s. Representations of men changed in the 80’s in that the male body began to be “eroticized and objectified” in ways that were initially applied to females (203). And, magazines regarding style for men were produced. Beynon continues to describe the “yuppie” image in the 80’s. The “yuppie” was thought to be successful and wealthy with a huge desire to spend his money. He lived in the “chic” areas of the city with “café’s” and the like. Beynon refers to Soho as a place where “yuppies” would reside. Much of the “yuppie” image was about style and a certain “look”.
Beynon continues to write about “laddism” and how ‘lads’ lives consist of nightclubs and style and parties as a reaction to the “men’s style press and to the growing assertiveness of women” (210). The new ‘lads’ could live risqué lives without censor. Loaded was a major magazine that supported this lifestyle.
Beynon finishes by suggesting that new types of men are the result of inventions by the media. However, Beynon writes that there is no agreement on what the ‘new man’ exactly means or who he is. The ‘new man’ is not his conservative father, however. Beynon writes on page 216, “…new man-ism remains a highly pervasive and masculine’ message” which is constantly changed and portrayed through media.

I chose this image because I believe it really portrays this 'new lad' idea in terms of style. The fact that this male model is carrying a purse around as a fashion statement goes to show the changes that men have made in terms of what is acceptable in style.

Another change in the identities of men that is portrayed in this image is the idea of male models. I believe traditionally, females were regarded as the only 'models'. Today, however, men are fashion models as well. It is interesting to think whether or not this is an expression of men flowing into a more traditional female role as women are gaining traditionally male roles in society. Men are possibly trying to find their places in society and maybe male modeling and male purses are the keys.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Michel Foucault - Discourses and Lifestyles

In chapter 6 of David Gauntlett’s book, Media, Gender and Identity – An Introduction, Gauntlett focuses on Michel Foucault’s views of “the self, identity and sexuality” and Foucault’s ideas about how these can “develop our understanding of identities and the media in modern society” (115). Gauntlett points out that Foucault’s views about how individuals are influenced by cultures and ‘outside forces’ has changed over time. According to Gauntlett, Foucault believes that the world is constructed of individuals who adapt to different experiences and their environment and affect the world rather than a world which imposes ‘external discourses’ on individuals in society (116). Gauntlett also points out that Foucault believes that power is something that is not controlled by one individual or group or individuals. Foucault believes that power flows through interactions with other individuals and presents itself to people in different situations. Foucault believes that rather than a negative result, the use of power results in productivity. He is not saying, however, that every act of power is positive; he is saying that even with resistance to power, something is being produced.
I find it interesting when Gauntlett continues to write about Foucault’s view of power in relation to the ideas about sexuality in Victorian times. Gauntlett writes that Foucault argues that because the views regarding sexuality in Victorian times stifled some behaviors those behaviors were given an ‘identity’ which, Gauntlett writes, “…launched them (the behaviors) into the public eye” (121). Thus, the behaviors were almost made 'popular' and individuals in society became more aware of those behaviors and could possibly relate or give a name to the thoughts or behaviors they might have been engaging in themselves.
Gauntlett continues to describe another view of Foucault’s, ‘technologies of the self’. ‘Technologies of the self’ refer to the ways individuals act in society and how outside influences can allow or restrain those individuals from acting a certain way. Gauntlett describes these ‘technologies of the self’ as the “(internal and external) practice of our (internal) ethics. The ethics are our set of standards to do with being a particular sort of person; the technologies of the self are how we think and act to achieve this” (126). In terms of media influences then, our self identities can be influenced by media and images that media portrays to the public, but ultimately we have the decision to act one way or another either in support of the images that media portrays or not. In all, this chapter in Gauntlett's book basically states the views of Michel Foucault and how he believes that when it comes to sexuality, we must develop our own ethics so that we can create our own 'mode of living' which may agree with the messages media conveys, or may disagree with those messages.

Lebron James - Will You Ever be as Powerful?

I'm not exactly sure why this commercial stood out to me, possibly because of the cool music and obscurity of the entire thing. However, I believe this commercial illustrates how Lebron's ethics and 'technologies of the self' have developed him into the 'powerful' person that he is today. It is an encouraging commercial because it tells the viewer, especially viewers who are athletes, that with hard work and effort they can achieve their goals in the midst of people who may discourage them. Of course, what this commercial really wants to convey is that this process of gaining power and fame is much more easily done with Nike products. At any rate, individuals can view this commercial and be influenced positively to work hard no matter what the opposition or difficulties may be, or they can possibly be encouraged to purchase Nike products so that they will somehow become better or more powerful athletes or the viewers could reject this commercial in its entirety as something ridiculous and silly and meaningless.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Giddens, Modernity and Self - Identity

In this chapter in his book, Media, Gender and Identity, David Gauntlett writes about the work of Anthony Giddens’ and how Giddens analyzes the way in which individuals “understand and shape their self-identity in modern societies” and how media plays a role in shaping this understanding (91). Giddens suggests that the way individuals conduct their lives and understand who they are in this world has to do directly with social forces; however, social life is not completely determined by these outside forces. Giddens says that there is a social structure but that this social structure can easily be changed if an individual feels the need to change that structure. Giddens suggests that individuals almost unconsciously conduct their lives based on this social order and when another individual decides to do something that may be out of the ‘norm’, it makes people uncomfortable. Gauntlett uses the example of how individuals in the past and present have questioned the way in which men and women should behave, and this has rattled people because men and women are changing the way they may have behaved in the past or according to past social structures. Gauntlett continues to write that Giddens believes we are in an era of late modernity.
I find it particularly interesting when Gauntlett writes that modernity directly affects an individual’s self identity. Because of modernity, new technologies, etc, individuals are offered many options, or many identities to choose from. In effect, some traditional self identities are being diminished. Advertising and the corporate world allows consumers to choose from multiple identities and therefore, consumerism directly relates to an individuals lifestyle. Gauntlett also writes that not only has modernity affected an individuals self identity, but it has also affected the body. Gauntlett writes, “In every interaction with another person or group, each of us routinely fosters more or less of an illusion designed to give the ‘right impression’ to our ‘audience’ (104). Gauntlett refers to this as the ‘reflexive mobilization’ of the body. In today’s society, we are able to ‘manipulate’ our bodies into fitting in to specific social situation. Obviously, modernity has a direct effect on society’s views of their self identities and their physical self.

Dr Vitolo

I chose this advertisement because I think it shows directly how modernity, including new technologies have affected our sense of self identity. This commercial is sickening. The narrator says, “I know we don’t all get to be born beautiful, but what I wouldn’t give to have a body like that”. This just shows how our society has put stress on the fact that we can now alter our bodies to fit a specific social ‘norm’ or expectation. It breaks my heart that because we are not all ‘born beautiful’ we can rely on consumerism and alterations to change the way we look to fit that definition of ‘beautiful.’ The only way to change this perception and the measures individuals take to alter their bodies to fit that social ‘norm’ is to change the way society views beauty. However, as long as media, advertisements, and society at large portray that image of beauty, how will individuals ever change their ideas of beauty?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Feminist Perspectives and Gender Representations, Oh My!

Feminist Perspectives on the Media – Liesbet van Zoonen

This article was difficult to read and analyze. However, I was able to pull a few different ideas from Liesbet van Zoonen’s writing entitled, Feminist Perspectives on the Media. According to van Zoonen, there are three feminist perspectives on the media. They are a liberal perspective, radical, and socialist perspective. First of all, what van Zoonen calls “liberal feminism”, they stereotypical thoughts about the roles that women play in society, especially the role as a housewife and mother, are all responsible for why women hold a “lower” or “unequal” position in society. In terms of media analysis, liberal feminists analyze “sex role stereotypes, prescriptions of sex-appropriate behavior, appearance, interests, skills and selfperceptions” (35). The second perspective is a radical feminist perspective. In this idea, “patriarchy” is the main point. Van Zoonen puts it well on page 36 when he says in terms of this feminist perspective, “In radical feminist discourse ‘patriarchy’, a social system in which all men are assumed to dominate and oppress all women, accounts for women’s position in society”. I found it interesting when I read that in “feminist utopias” which would be a radical feminist’s greatest dream come true, lesbianism is a “political choice” because in a feminist utopia, women must completely cut themselves off from all ties with men and “form their own communities” (37). In this perspective, in terms of media, pornography has been closely analyzed. The conclusion is that media greatly affects men’s views and attitudes towards women and how women view themselves. Finally, the third perspective that van Zoonen brings up is socialist feminism. In a socialist feministic perspective, gender, class, and economic conditions each directly affect women’s positions in society. Van Zoonen says that the solution in terms of media representation of women is “reforming the mainstream media as well as producing separate feminist media” (39). Van Zoonen writes that the negative perspectives of women in society need to be reformed. This can be accomplished either by reforming media that exists today or through creating entirely new, feminist interpretations of the way women should conduct themselves in society.

Feminist Media Project

This website is extremely interesting. It was started by a group of people, a mix of academics and journalists, concerned about media depictions of missing and murdered women. This website refers to the trial of Robert Pickton in Vancouver, British Columbia, for 26 charges of first-degree murder. The website says, "Details of the trial against Pickton, which begins in January 2007, are bound to generate the most salacious and disturbing media coverage that reinforces stereotypes about women victims of violence and their perpetrators. Recognition of these issues and subsequent change in media representations can only occur through informed public discourse." Apparently, this website posts news alerts and media coverage about the "Missing Women" from a feminist perspective. I'm not sure how recently this site was updated, but it is still interesting to find that there are some active groups advocating feminism and media depictions in society.

Representations of Gender Today – David Gauntlett

In chapter four, Representations of Gender Today in David Gauntlett’s book, Media, Gender and Identity, an Introduction, Gauntlett writes that by the mid 1990’s, gender representation in media has been growing towards equal representation of both males and females. Gaunlett refers to a few examples of television shows in which the women are main roles and portrayed as successful and confident intelligent characters while men are portrayed as having emotions and sensitive. Gauntlett says the same thing has been happening in films. He uses an interesting example by referring to the Terminator 2: Judgment Day when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s evil character, the Terminator comes back in the second film as a “protective father-figure to nice little Ed Furlong” (65). This could also possibly be part of the 90’s trend of changing the perspective of “fatherhood.” Gauntlett continues to discuss advertisement representations of gender, which he seems to think have been almost equal in terms of the representation of women and men in advertisements. I find it particularly interesting when Gauntlett writes in reference to gender representations in advertisements, “…the make-up adverts referred to above remind us of a concern uniquely applicable to advertising – that it is produced by capitalists who want to cultivate insecurities which they can then sell ‘solutions’ to” (77). I feel like this is true not only for women, especially in advertisements geared towards beauty products, but this can also be true for men in advertisements geared toward control or power through the purchase of a specific product. Finally, Gauntlett writes about the emergence of alternate sexualities on television. He writes that although representations of homosexuals have been emerging frequently in T.V. sitcoms, they are still not as frequently represented as a heterosexual cast of characters.

Clean Clear and Confident - What Everyone Woman Wants...

This commercial is possibly more for a laugh than anything else, but it relates to what Gauntlett wrote about when he said that advertisements are geared toward solutions to insecurities that the consumer may have. In this advertisement for Clean and Clear, the characters in the advertisement are upset because they have oily skin. They find a solution in Clean and Clear which takes away their 'oiliness' so that they can have fun again and sing songs. The hope for the producer of this ad is that the consumer finds that she can relate to these two girls because she too has oily skin sometimes and that oily skin is probably keeping her from having fun. Not only does this ad address insecurities in women, but it excludes men altogether. Where are the oily-faced men in this ad? I know that there are oily faced men out there...why isn't this ad geared towards both men and women? Clean and Clear is not just a product for females...atleast I don't think it says anywhere on the container: "for women only".
I have to apologize for this commercial because it is in another language...of which I am not sure. But it results in some good laughs (atleast I laughed a lot at it) because of how ridiculous the two girls in the ad act. You can still get the main point in the ad, however, even though it is in some other language.